Semi-Furled Flag

It’s been another rough week in Central Texas. Tuesday’s freezing rain closed all the roads, schools, and businesses. An inch of ice accumulated on power lines, power went down, and no power to pump water means boil notices or no water at all, and the propane companies can’t get to any homes to fill tanks. So we stayed home Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday. Cell towers stopped working. My son’s university lost power, and they are not allowed candles in their dorms. Students don’t keep a week’s worth of snacks in their rooms, nor piles of blankets. And with no way to travel, they were stuck.

Today makes day three with no power for over 150,000 Austinites, now tossing everything in their fridges today, due to spoilage. They still have no power. Each day passes, and they wait. It was still below freezing this morning. You can’t boil water if your stove is electric. You can’t nuke it in the microwave. Those of us with generators fare better, but that only goes so far.

All day yesterday, as temps inched above freezing, the sounds of huge oak and cottonwood branches falling filled the greater city area. Every couple of minutes, footlong icicles, sheets of ice on roofs, and tree limbs would crash to the ground. Limbs landed on cars and fences, blocking driveways. Everyone within an hour’s radius lost trees. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire Austin area lost half its trees. Everywhere you look, 8 and 10 foot limbs litter the yards and roads. They just weren’t made to support so much ice for three days.

Honestly, I don’t know why people keep moving here. My suburb town alone has grown 30% in 10 years. 30%. We have nowhere to put them. Hopefully, this ice storm scared them off. This is three challenging winters in a row. Of course, we’ll be in sundresses and sandals by Sunday. Nothing makes sense anymore.

Frondless Palms

Back in February of 2021, central Texas experienced what we’ve termed “Snowpocalypse.” We were iced in for five days, unable to step out onto our front porches, get mail, or get food. Many of us had no water, and others had no electricity due to downed lines. It was then that thousands of surrounding trees died.

We had high hopes that they would rally in spring, and a small few did. But most just died, and much money and time were spent in stumpgrinding and removal. Yards all over town have empty spots on their lawns, or small saplings still tied to the stakes. We let over a year pass until we finally gave up on our backyard palm tree. It gave up the ghost long ago.

Yesterday, however, we visited Margarita’s restaurant for the first time in years. It used to be visible from the road by its couple dozen large palm trees, swaying in the breeze. It was a lovely tropical vibe. Yesterday, we could barely see it from the road. Then we realized it, too, had suffered palm tree loss.

And yet all the trunks remain standing, like a once-tropical Stonehenge. At this point, they should be felled. But replacing them would run into the hundreds of thousands. Until then, I imagine they will stand proudly but sadly in the breeze.

Dine & Drug

While it would seem curious now to make plans to meet up with friends at your local Walgreens or CVS, time was when drug stores had soda fountains and lunch counters.

These University of Texas students enjoyed coffee with friends, exchanging notes and cramming for tests, with a view of pills and potions behind the glass at Home Drug in 1948. Today, these brown bottles might prove too tempting for thieves, and certainly not appetizing for patrons in the booths. Did y’all ever drink a soda or take in a BLT at the local drugstore?

Clarice’s Tavern

Round Rock, Texas, early 70s

Seated at the glossy counter is owner Mrs. Clarice DeBack, surrounded by her wares, transistor radio, and packs of smokes, all beneath the Jax beer sign (the mellow brew). The tavern served bar-b-q, sausage, chili, and burgers. I imagine at one time, this tavern ranked among Oldenburg’s “great good places.”

Frosty, Man, Frosty

1958

Now in Detroit! I’m not sure why this ad was targeted specifically at Detroit, giving its citizens (comprised of avid surfers along the Detroit coastline) access to the friendly Pepper-Upper. “Frosty, man, frosty” seems consistent with the beatnik counterculture depicted in the Dobie Gillis show that would air the following year. But isn’t the temperature of the drink dependent on its storage, and not its ingredients? Couldn’t any drink be frosty, man?

Like a pineapple, which is neither pine nor apple, Dr Pepper is neither medicinal nor peppery. But that didn’t stop the jingle makers of the 1977 commercial from using the bandwagon formula of letting all of America know that he, she, and they are peppers, and you might ought to get in line and become a pepper yourself. My friends and I loved to sing along with David Naughton when he appeared on our little black and white screens, donning a vest, and cavorting about. Oh, to be peppers!

Having lived in Texas my entire life, where DP was omnipresent, it was always an option. Many of us have visited the Dr Pepper Museum, as well as the Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company. We know it was created by a pharmacist in Waco 100 years before we started drinking soda, and we knew the period after Dr was dropped in 1950.

However, it could never top Coke in my opinion, so I opted out of consuming it thrice daily during times of low blood sugar (10, 2, and 4). In fact, I’ve never even ordered one at a restaurant. Perhaps it’s a guy thing. My husband adores it. Oft times, I’ve ordered Coke in a restaurant, and been challenged with “Is Pepsi okay?” which it never is, so I settle for iced tea. But no server ever asks, “Is Mr. Pibb okay?” Never. DP is always available, and unlike a box of chocolates, you always know what you’re gonna get.

giphy.com

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pleated jeans

I saw this pic today of a patron in a Texas HEB and knew that I could not keep it to myself. At first, I thought someone was hoarding foil or plastic wrap. Then I realized it was Hungry-Man frozen dinners. Dozens of them, supplemented by what appear to be frozen pizzas and some Stouffers tossed in. But the core demand here was blue cartons. All of them. The entire stock. It reminds me of the Parks and Rec scene wherein Ron Swanson demands ALL of the bacon and eggs.

Is this a Christmas gift for a home-bound relative? Is the gift of cardiac failure and diabetes the gift that keeps on giving? I myself have never eaten Hungry-Man. So my palate never knew a salisbury steak nor a meatloaf. But who could not be tempted by this chicken caressing a waffle? Are you a man or a mouse? EAT LIKE A MAN.

Pinnacle Foods

Does that tactic really work in this day and age, where gender is as fluid as the maple syrup on that waffle? Many men today have never changed their own oil, chopped firewood, or kilt them a bar when they was only three. More men today have eaten couscous and know how to properly say acai. But not at Hungry Man. They doubled down with their new double meat bowls because America. Chute, yeah. Try their Mexican Fiesta Enchiladas, complete with coconut-flavored pudding. If that’s not diverse, I don’t know what is.

I can’t see Millennials buying these. Why buy a $4 meal when you can buy a $7 green smoothie? So it must be older folk. Will sales plummet as years go by? All I know is there’s a giant vacancy in the frozen foods department, and a man somewhere who won’t be hungry for long.

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